Join me for today’s Real Careers interview with Heather Moore of the USA.
Heather Moore is an Executive Assistant at Grainger Industrial Supply. Here’s a look at her world.
There’s a pattern here
I wake up around 6:00 a.m. … COFFEE! Work from home, get kids up and moving for school, take kids to school, work from home, pick kids up, work from home.
On the job
Primary Responsibilities: I strategically partner with the executive leadership to promote employee engagement, act as an information liaison, and track regional compliance. I also have indirect leadership responsibility for district assistants and serve as the Recruiting Lead for our Administrative Business Partner Business Resource Group (ABP BRG).
Morning Routines: I start with coffee and then check LinkedIn, work emails/calendar. I plan/attend meetings, and work more emails.
How long is your work day? I typically spend seven to 10 hours in my home office each day. I love the personal and professional flexibility that my role provides. My hours vary, depending on the meetings that day/week. Some days I work from 6:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and other days I work from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. I rarely work more than 40 hours per week.
Given health risks associated with views that sitting is the new smoking, have you or your employer adopted any steps to support good health? Grainger has provided several benefits. Some examples are making sure I have an ergonomically friendly desk set up, gym membership discounts, mental health programs, non-smoker (and smoking cessation) discounts, monthly wellbeing webinars and more! We have even done virtual yoga/fitness classes.
What might be a typical lunch? I don’t typically take a lunch break, but that is a personal choice.
Are you involved in any employee groups/teams independent of your role? I am a member of several of our internal Business Resource Groups (BRGs) and on the leadership team for the Administrative Business Partner Business Resource Group (ABP BRG). I am currently working on building a recruiting and bench program for our admin roles. Previously I have led our Development and Training – Lunch and Learns for the ABP BRG.
Inside the career
What is the most challenging aspect of your day or career? Influencing without authority What do you most enjoy about your career? The flexibility and variety – no two days are the same!
I am working on delegating and knowing that I don’t have to do it all by myself
On Saying “No”
I try to limit saying “no”, but I am working on delegating and knowing that I don’t have to do it all by myself.
Working during a pandemic
Tell us about your experience with remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic. What are some of the challenges and benefits of working from home? Being knowledgeable and comfortable with technology is a huge part of successfully working from home. You also need to be thoughtful around networking and building relationships.
How would you rate your productivity when working remotely? I have been working from home for around six years. I have no worries about my productivity. In fact, I have been told to stop working because it is easy to get sucked into doing “one more thing”. Finding balance in both work and home life is key when working remotely.
On working remotely: You also need to be thoughtful around networking and building relationships
What would be your ideal work scenario once we settle in to new norms? I will continue to work from home after the pandemic. I am in the Midwest and my team is spread along the East Coast.
How many professional development-focused webinars do you estimate you’ve attended during the COVID-19 pandemic? I attend weekly “coffee breaks” with a couple of different admin networks, ASAP and Leader Assistant, and have attended several development webinars. I also studied for six months with 60+ peers inside Grainger to achieve my PACE (Professional Administrative Certificate of Excellence) certification.
How did you feel about learning from webinars? I like both webinars and in-person learning events. The convenience of webinars is nice, but I also look forward to the real-life networking that you get from the in-person conferences.
Let’s think about environmental sustainability, both at home and in the workplace. The term “carbon footprint” is used to describe the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) we generate through our actions. These emissions, arising dominantly from our transportation, food and housing practices, trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere and generate global warming.
Globally, the average carbon footprint per person is estimated to be in the range of four tons. The average in the country with the highest emissions is estimated at 16 tons per person. Individuals and employers are increasingly aware of the importance of taking steps to reduce our carbon footprints.
What steps are underway within your workplace to reduce carbon footprints? Note: Heather quoted information provided on Grainger’s Corporate Social Responsibility web page. In 2012, Grainger became the first industrial distributor to publicly disclose its carbon footprint. In 2013, it became the first in its industry to set a public greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction target, and achieved it two years earlier than targeted.
“Grainger’s efforts are focused on improving energy efficiency and embedding sustainability into our operations and value chain.
- Since 2011, reduced absolute scope 1 and scope 2 emissions by 29%
- Member of the U.S. Green Building Council since 2007
- Operate LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified facilities
- Maintain 8.1 million square feet of LEED certified space through 17 North American facilities, representing 36% of Grainger’s total square feet in North America
- In 2019, our U.S. Distribution Centers recycled 89.7% of all waste leaving the facility
- Continually monitoring and measuring our water footprint and looking for opportunities to reduce usage
- Total U.S. consumption in 2019 was 474,648 cubic meters, a decrease from 2018 total of 508,653 cubic meters”
“In 2019 Grainger received an A- rating from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). In line with Grainger’s commitment to mitigating climate risk and reducing our carbon emissions, we are proud to announce our new climate target. We plan to reduce our absolute scope 1 and scope 2 emissions by 30 percent by 2030, using a 2018 baseline. This target follows the guidelines set forth by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) and the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, and it ensures that our internal actions align with the global goal of limiting warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius.”
“Grainger also works to create a more sustainable workplace for our customers and our communities through our Environmentally Preferable Product (EPP) portfolio and sustainability offerings.”
Personal steps: We try to be mindful of using less disposable products and recycle whenever possible
Please highlight some steps you take to reduce your carbon footprint in your personal life. My kids are passionate about creating a better footprint for their generation. We try to be mindful of using less disposable products and recycle whenever possible. We have upgraded to all energy efficient appliances and use water reducing showerheads and faucets. My husband and I have recently been investigating installing solar power to our home. We also are conscious of keeping things out of the landfill by sharing our no longer needed items with neighbors and friends.
How long have you been in this career? I have been with Grainger for 19.5 years but have been in an assistant role for the last seven. How did you learn about the opportunity that led to your current role? It was an internal promotion.
How do you like to spend your time away from the office? We like to play Monopoly, Empire or dominoes for family game night. We also love movies and going to the gun range. Your ideal holiday or travel adventure? I love the calmness of the ocean waves and the sand between my toes!
In November 2020, Heather achieved her Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence (PACE) certification
Education and professional development
I started in a part time job with Grainger when I was 19, and fell in love with the people and culture. I positioned myself to work in many different areas and capacities throughout the years and ultimately found my passion – helping people! I have attended many webinars, the APC (Administrative Professionals Conference) and in November 2020 achieved my Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence (PACE) certification.
I started in a part time job with Grainger when I was 19, and fell in love with the people and culture
Peer and Professional Associations: I am the Recruiting Lead for Grainger’s internal ABP BRG (Administrative Business Partner Business Resource Group). I am also an active participant and subscribe to several administrative networks like ASAP (American Society of Administrative Professionals), Leader Assistant, Executive Secretary, Exceptional EA and many more Facebook and LinkedIn groups.
How have the leadership roles you’ve held within Grainger impacted you? The different leadership roles I have held within our internal BRGs (Business Resource Groups) have allowed me the space to step outside of my comfort zone to develop in areas like public speaking, persuasive presentations, project management and more in a safe environment. As a global company with approximately 25,000 US employees, it has also given me exposure to network with peers and other leaders I would not have normally come across.
Finding balance in both work and home life is key when working remotely
Networking, inspiration and achievements
Let’s talk about the positive benefits your networking has had on your career, and/or for your employer. Since I have been with Grainger my entire career, I have found tremendous value in connecting with other assistants in different companies, geographical locations and positions, etc. I have been able to take best practices and ideas from them back to my company and peers.
What are the primary means of communication for members of your networks and professional associations? Between coffee chats, email and social media, the possibilities are endless!
Tell us about a career accomplishment or two of which you’re particularly proud. I am proud of the brand I have created for myself within Grainger.
I am the Recruiting Lead for Grainger’s internal ABP BRG (Administrative Business Partner Business Resource Group
Recruitment is often competency-based. Which of the competencies you bring to the role are most relevant to success in your current position? virtual environment/technology, organization, collaboration and leadership
What skill(s) development or enhancement have you targeted for the next year? I plan to attend the virtual Global Executive Secretary LIVE in March and continue developing my project management and leadership skills with an internal project for the BRG (Business Resource Group).
Network, network, network!
The Digital Age
What are your preferred forms of social media? LinkedIn and Facebook What apps do you make use of in your professional life? Mostly Microsoft apps (OneDrive, Excel, Teams, Outlook, SharePoint, OneNote, Word, PowerPoint) as well as SalesForce and Genius Scan
Tell us about the impacts of having an employer-provided smartphone. I like having the ability to see things whenever and wherever I am. Since I work from home, I am never far from it anyway, so the work/life balance is not an issue. My executive and teams are very considerate of my personal time.
Are your meetings paperless? We utilize SharePoint and an intranet. We are a leader in green facilities and many of our meetings are held virtually.
What forms of professional development would you recommend to assistants who want to ensure their roles remain relevant and rewarding in this digital age? Keep up on the technology used both in your company and industry. Being a change leader is important!
Travel or travel planning recommendations? Know your executive’s preferences! What hotels do they love/hate, do they need a gym or running path nearby, do they like having a hot breakfast? Do they like a window or aisle seat, would they prefer an empty seat next to them and/or to be seated close to the front of the plane? Which airports do they love/hate for connections?
What apps or programs do you and/or your principal/executive find useful for travelling and expense tracking? As we live 800 miles apart, texting/emailing receipts and an electronic filing system are what has kept this an easy process for us. Nuance PDF Editor has been helpful as well.
Do not use jargon or assume others will know what you are talking about
Give us one or two of your best strategies for job interviews. Slow down and provide complete answers using specific examples with results. Ask for clarification if needed. Do not use jargon or assume others will know what you are talking about.
What bit of insight would have been most helpful to you in the early stages of your career? Google and YouTube are your friends – they can teach you most things!
On Grainger: We are a leader in green facilities
What are a couple of suggestions you’d offer that new assistant on the block, in terms of how to build effective business relationships within the office? Network, network, network! Make time for a phone call, lunch, etc. instead of an email or instant message.
Your most effective time management strategy? Planning and organization are key! Find what works for you.
What are a couple of valuable early conversation topics you recommend an assistant initiate when beginning work with a new executive/principal? This comes back to preferences and getting to know your executive. Understand how he/she likes to communicate and what is important to them.
About Shelagh and her Real Careers interviews
At the age of 21, Shelagh was a direct report to a COO. Within the same corporation, she became an editor and then a corporate trainer before a relocation and a return to what became an almost 30-year assistant career. Wrapping up that career in 2018 after a decade in governance, Shelagh’s been a direct report to four CEOs and accountable to four board chairs. Now, she delivers quality training internationally. She speaks at conferences, works with corporate clients, facilitates retreats, and delivers webinars to diverse audiences of assistants who want to perform at a high level.
Shelagh launched her Real Careers series in 2015. She interviews assistants around the globe in order to showcase individuals and the career itself. This series and the questions Shelagh poses continue to evolve. In addition to providing interesting reads and diverse perspectives, these interviews can constitute a form of professional development, as readers can explore different approaches assistants take to building and maintaining successful careers.
To date, assistants in 27 countries to date have generously shared the benefit of their experience with Shelagh. Shelagh has also assembled international Real Careers panels to explore perspectives on career dynamics, issues and opportunities. To explore any of Shelagh’s Real Careers interviews, follow drop-down menus on this page as follows: Real Careers/Interviews.